5 Worst-Selling Cars Of All Time

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As America's auto industry has learned the hard way, "cutting-edge" designs tend to be a double-edged sword. Sometimes the millions of dollars that car companies put into researching and developing new vehicles results in a monumental triumph of reliability and efficiency, like the Ford Fusion Hybrid. Other times, they end up with something like the Ford Edsel, a sedan that was more likely to end up in a junkyard than in someone's garage. To discover why these bright ideas turned into bombs, let's take a look back at the five worst-selling cars in history.

Cadillac Catera

Worst Production Year
2001 with 9,764 models sold
Why Did It Flop?
Advertised as "The Caddy that Zigs," the Catera was an ill-fated attempt to appeal to the younger, sport-sedan demographic. The car, which was simply a rebranded Opel Omega with a V8 stuck in it, suffered from numerous problems during its four-year run. Auto Recalls for Consumers reported many customers having issues. The suspensions were easy to break and expensive to fix, the brakes wore out quickly and a design flaw in the timing belt tensioner made the engines prone to failure. To top it all off, a confusing ad campaign – which featured fashion model Cindy Crawford talking to a duck – made it difficult to figure out what exactly Cadillac was trying to sell in the first place.

Pontiac Aztek

Worst Production Year
2005 with 5,020 models sold Why Did It Flop?
Part SUV, part minivan and part egg carton, the stylistically-confused Pontiac Aztek proved that beauty really is skin deep – at least as far as car buyers are concerned. Though there was nothing wrong with the Aztek mechanically, it was so ugly that it quickly became the punch-line of every auto design joke made in the early 2000s. Bloomberg reported that one GM official even went on record as saying: "We'd fire the guy who greenlighted the Aztek if we could find anyone willing to admit it."

 

The Aztek has gained notoriety as the vehicle driven by Walter White, the main character of the TV series "Breaking Bad." Unfortunately for the now defunct Pontiac, it's likely the car was chosen as a metaphor for Walt's life: A man who couldn't decide what he wanted to be.

 

After limping through four years of unremarkable sales, the Aztek was finally put out of its misery in 2005.

 

The Yugo GV

Worst Production Year
1991 with fewer than 4,000 models sold
Why Did It Flop?
The Yugo GV is what happens when you try to sell a car designed for poor, third-world Eastern European countries in the United States. Though the GV enjoyed some initial success due to its low price tag, it was simply too riddled with design flaws to be profitable. Anything that could go wrong with the Yugo often did. The engine randomly overheated and stalled, the safety restraints broke and, on occasion, the radio fell out of the dashboard. The failures were so bad that the Listeners of NPR's "Car Talk" recently named the Yugo the "Worst Car of the Millenium."

The Lincoln Blackwood

Worst Production Year
2002 with 3,300 models sold
Why Did It Flop?
The Lincoln Blackwood was the product of Ford's failed experiment to create a "luxury" pickup truck. Though the Blackwood cost $52,000, it only came in black and lacked many features you'd expect to find on a top-shelf pickup - like four-wheel drive and a large bed. As a result, the sales of the vehicle never even came close to competing with Ford's F-series and the Blackwood was put out of production after a year.

The Ford Edsel

Worst Production Year
1960 with 2848 models sold
Why Did It Flop?
Ford created the Edsel brand in the late 1950s to compete with GM's line of affordable midsized cards. Unfortunately, Edsels never lived up to the hype that Ford created for them. Edsel's signature over-stylized bodies were panned as ugly, their "new" chassis were the same ones used by Lincoln and Mercury models, and their price point was well above the competition. Three years after it launched, the brand was swept into the dustbin as one of the biggest marketing failures in industry history.

Conclusion

America's consumers are a fickle bunch, especially when it comes to cars. These five vehicles all looked like gold on the draft table, but they all sunk like lead when they were finally introduced to the market. While these cars might be the biggest flops of all time, they certainly won't be the last. As automakers continue to experiment with new designs, it's only a matter of time before a new vehicle stalls its way into the record books.

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